It is no secret that electronic health records are taking center stage throughout the health care industry. Their ability to make workflows faster and provide physicians with necessary health information at point of care has proven EHRs to be must-have systems for enhanced patient care. Adoption rates have increased over the past couple of years as more doctors continue to leave paper-based procedures behind and implement EHRs in their practices or hospitals.
While the majority of providers have already installed EHRs, investments in these machines show no sign of slowing down, as physicians are finding that they may need to update their current systems to keep up with the evolving health care system. A new survey by Black Book Rankings showed that a little under 20 percent of large practices and clinics plan to replace their current EHRs by the end of 2016.
Black Book survey shows EHR replacement rates
According to EHR Intelligence, many industry experts had called 2013 the "Year of EHR Replacement," but this may have been too premature, as the Black Book survey found that providers are still making the decision to replace their EHRs with updated versions.
The survey also showed that the annual ambulatory user satisfaction poll will continue to undergo a sharp upward trend. These increased satisfaction rates will continue in the way that EHR users view the customer service and support from their vendors as well.
A large portion of multispecialty groups expressed dissatisfaction with their EHRs in 2013, but this has changed drastically since then. A total of 71 percent of physicians reported that their vendors had met or exceeded their expectations for EHR optimization. This is important, as various industry updates, such as the upcoming stage 3 meaningful use standards, are just off on the horizon and require both high-quality EHR systems and vendors.
Another 82 percent of administrative staff noted in the survey that they felt there were improvements in the operational or financial capabilities of their practice management and EHR software. Meanwhile, 90 percent of providers reported that their vendors had solicited user feedback to enhance their EHR experience.
"EHR firms with a wide offering of products including health information exchange, population health tools, revenue cycle management services, patient portals, dashboards and analytics are emerging as the next wave of health care technology leaders," Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said. "These leading vendors are assisting their clients in assessing current practice operations to meet the demands of ICD-10, payment reform, connectivity beyond closed networks, revenue cycle management gaps, and population health tools, and recommending effective options within the same vendor suite."
What are providers looking for in their EHR systems?
There are multiple health care reform initiatives and mandates approaching that are responsible for the increase in providers looking to update their EHR systems. The new ICD-10 codes, for example, will require a top-notch system designed to make switching from ICD-9 more convenient for users. EHRs should also be able to adhere to the stage 3 meaningful use requirements. Providers are asking that their vendors offer the proper support and customer service to assist them in ensuring a smooth transition to these major industry modifications.
"Meaningful use deadlines, total integration and reliable delivery may have influenced large group practice buyers to purchase initial EHRs from 2010 through 2013, but replacement buyers sought better EHR tools in 2014 that include patient engagement, true interoperability, enhanced usability and productivity gains," said Brown. "There was also a measurable shift in loyalty to vendors that offered a robust, core EHR to accommodate evolving reforms."
New features like mobile applications and graphical interfaces designed to help providers select the correct ICD-10 codes are particularly enticing to providers as well.